For those not familiar, New Japan’s Honor Rising shows are joint shows with American wrestling company Ring Of Honor (ROH) in Tokyo. There’s a decent line up over the two nights, though the main events with Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi facing the Bullet Club are of most interest to me. I’m not too familiar with ROH, so this is a good chance for me to watch some of their wrestlers.
Katsuya Kitamura and Toa Henare vs. Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale (2.5/5) was a decent opening tag match. I think Kitamura and Henare would make a decent full time team and their interactions with Fale were fun, until the Bullet Club team inevitably won.
Cheeseburger, Delirious and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. HIKULEO, Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga (2.5/5) was mainly comedy to set up the faces’ NEVER Openweight 6 Man Title match on Night 2. I enjoyed the match, it was amusing and didn’t outstay it’s welcome. Cheeseburger, Delirious and the ageless Liger won.
I had a feeling David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. The Young Bucks (3.5/5) would be good and I wasn’t disappointed. The Bucks are great to watch, but Finlay and Juice have come a long way in the past year or so and this was a close, quick match that flew by.
KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Flip Gordon (3.5/5) was another undercard match that looked good and didn’t disappoint. Kushida and Takahashi had some great matches with each other last yeat, but this match was more about showcasing Flip Gordon. It’s the first time I’d seen him wrestle and I enjoyed it. Lots of good high flying in another match that flew by.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Jay Lethal, and Dalton Castle vs. Chuckie T, Beretta, and Jay White (3/5) was an odd one for me; I thought it was good and had some wrestlers I really like involved (Lethal, Beretta and White), but it didn’t sparkle for me. Maybe it was tiredness, maybe it’s the amount of tag matches on the show. I’m always happy to see Jay White though, he’s fast becoming a favourite of mine. Since the underwhelming match against Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom he’s been brilliant, both in the ring and on the mic. I really like the character (he’s a slimy opportunist) and I see the attack on Omega at New Year’s Dash as the beginning of White’s run, not the Wrestle Kingdom match. If anything, the Wrestle Kingdom match is just a prologue for a big feud with Tanahashi down the line.
The NEVER Openweight Championship match between Hirooki Goto (C) vs The Beer City Bruiser was OK (2.5/5). As I’ve admitted in the past, I’m not the biggest Goto fan and hadn’t see Beer City Bruiser before, but this match was a decent brawl that didn’t outstay it’s welcome.
Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Chase Owens vs. Marty Scurll, Hangman Page, and Cody (4/5) did just enough to jump up from a 3.5/5. The storyline was brilliantly played out in this match (basically, Kenny Omega has left the Bullet Club after being attacked by Cody and reunited with former Golden Lovers tag partner Kota Ibushi) with everyone in the match having an agenda (notably Cody being bitter about Omega and Ibushi, Scurll wanting no part of the whole thing and Owens seeing this as a chance to prove himself to Omega) The action was great too, a frantic mix of tags, near finishes and drama before Hangman got the win for Cody’s team to set up Night 2’s main event. A fine finish to a decent Night 1.
Night 1 Average Score – 3.1/5.0
Toa Henare vs. The Beer City Bruiser (2.5/5) was short and to the point. No complaints here – it was everything I wanted from these two. The Japanese fans seem to really like Bruiser and the finishing frog splash was pretty cool.
David Finlay, Juice Robinson, and Jay Lethal vs. HIKULEO, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi (2.5/5) was a good three man tag. Chase Owens was the standout for me, I’ve enjoyed his performances on these cards.
Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi and Flip Gordon was a nice surprise, as I didn’t see it listed before the show. I wavered on the score but decided to give it (3/5) for 1) surprising me by having Gordon lose and probably set up future matches/rematches and 2) the excellent finish, which saw Bushi pin Gordon after a Doomsday MX (A Codebreaker to Gordon who was sat on Hiromu’s shoulders).
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship match: Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa, and Bad Luck Fale (c) vs. Cheeseburger, Delirious, and Jushin Thunder Liger (2.5/5) was alright. Nothing was wrong with the match, but I had seen the comedy and a lot of the action the previous night.
Chuckie T, YOSHI-HASHI, and Jay White vs. The Young Bucks and Hangman Page for the ROH 6 Man Titles (3.5/5) was a frantic affair that never seemed to slow down. I liked the ending of Hangman pinning White and his post match attack too – it clearly establishes Hangman Page as the next contender to Jay White and adds more tension to the ongoing Bullet Club drama.
The ROH World Championship match between Dalton Castle (c) vs. Beretta (3/5) became a three way match when the Beer City Bruiser added himself to the match. In contrast to the last match, we got a slower contest, with the typical ‘one man rests outside’ trope you see in three way matches. I enjoyed the match though as it told a story of the injured Beretta and the opportunistic Bruiser pretty well.
Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega vs. Marty Scurll and Cody (4/5) was fantastic and everything I wanted from this match. Great action, a hot crowd, further Bullet Club drama and more storyline progress made it a pleasure to watch. The Golden Lovers were the stars of the show (I found myself rooting for them to win, which added to my enjoyment) but I thought Scurll and Cody were excellent too. A great way to end the double header.
Night 2 average rating – 3.0/5.0
Overall the Honor Rising cards were good cards each with an excellent main event. I would recommend you watch Night 2’s main event if you watch anything as that is the match that really sees the Golden Lovers shine.